Data protection and governance for healthcare

Protecting patients’ data is one of the key objectives of any healthcare cybersecurity team. Patients’ data must only be accessible by the patient and the relevant healthcare professionals who work directly with that patient. Data breaches can have a huge impact on patients, as the theft of personally identifiable information (PII) like social security numbers can lead to fraud impersonation. Healthcare providers, payers, research organizations, pharmaceuticals, biotech and more will inevitably be damaged by any data breaches as well. Trust will be lost, and patients may switch to an alternative provider.

Data breaches in a hospital setting can cost millions to recover from. This cost and resource can directly impact patient care by diverting resources and funds away from doctors, and medical practitioners.

Ransomware is one of the key issues within healthcare that can lock computers by exploiting areas of weakness and block access to data, which is critical for providing accurate care to patients. Cybersecurity hackers are aware of this, which makes hospitals and healthcare providers a key target for an attack. The ransomware then demands a high payment for the release of the data and systems. Hospitals attacked by ransomware can lose access to critical patient data for sustained periods of time. This can put patients at a significant risk, especially in departments such as A&E where access to current patient data, including medication, allergies and more is critical.

Data Encryption

Data encryption makes the data unreadable without the right decryption key. This stops unauthorized disclosure of patient data when it is being transferred from one user or healthcare system to another. With the increased use of mobile devices by doctors and other medical practitioners’ data encryption has never been more vital.

To ensure that any protected health information or data is encrypted correctly, cybersecurity experts need to identify how data enters and flows within your organization. Key areas to identify are places where data is stored, created, or transferred. Once these areas have been identified, cybersecurity teams can put practices in place to protect and encrypt and decrypt data such as, emails, patient records, applications, databases, and more.

Data Loss Prevention

Preventing data loss is also critical within healthcare. With so many systems and users interconnecting, data leakage or unintentional disclosure is a real threat to hospitals, research institutions, payers, pharmaceuticals, and more.

Healthcare companies must safeguard patient data: laws and governing bodies indeed require the protection of patient data and breaches and misuse of data can result in large fines. Within healthcare, data loss prevention (DLP) is a first step to prevent data leaks and begins with full visibility of every potential data holder, system, access point and transfer process.

Data loss prevention also requires advanced technology to monitor and classify data exchanges. The most sensitive data is more closely monitored and extra steps are taken to ensure this data is kept secure and no loss occurs. The technology works to identify the riskiest areas and data transfers. These are then reported, reviewed and assessed and automatic remediation can be set up to stop data breaches or loss of data.

Hardware Security Modules (HSM)

Hardware security modules safeguard digital keys and perform data encryption and decryption operations. These physical devices can be implemented in larger healthcare settings such as large hospitals or research institutes that are looking to keep control and sovereignty over their data, for instance in cloud environments. Special tamper proof measures are in place to ensure that every HSM is secure and cannot be breached. HSM helps organizations to be compliant with strict security demands like GDPR, HIPAA, PCI, DSS and eIDAS.

For more information on how Atos can help with data protection and governance including providing HSM, Data Loss Prevention and Data Encryption along with a full end-to-end cybersecurity solutions for healthcare companies contact our healthcare team.

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